Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Remembering Winnie


There's something I've been wanting to write about, though I haven't been able to tackle it until now. On January 20, our beautiful dog, Winnie, passed away. She was 10 years old. In November, she had been diagnosed with Cushing's disease. We started her on medicine but I quickly learned that treating Cushing's is tricky. It requires frequent tests to be sure the right amount of medication is being given. Too much can lead to Addison's disease, which is  what happened to Winnie. She was at the vet for treatment when she went into cardiac arrest. The doctor said she had been wagging her tail just seconds before she passed. That sounds like our lovely Winnie -- happy until the very end.

Rather than focus on her death, though, I would like to celebrate her life, and share the wonderful memories we have of her. I'll start at the beginning. My husband and I found Winnie on a Sunday afternoon in January 2002, wandering around a truck lot in an industrial park. She was about four months old and was very timid. When we called to her, she desperately wanted to trust us, but was very frightened. Finally she came over to the fence, tail tucked as far under her body as possible. She wore a collar, but no tags. The collar was so tight around her neck, it was nearly choking her. We had to cut it off, which wasn't easy with her fidgeting so. She was covered in fleas. We bathed her and the next day my husband took her to the vet.

At the time, we had another dog, Phoebe, who was two and a half. For that reason, we kept Winnie at my husband's office for a couple of weeks to see if someone was looking for her or might want to adopt her. But deep down we knew this sweet puppy would become part of our family, so we brought her home to meet Phoebe. They got along beautifully, and played hard. Phoebe loved having a new sister in the house.
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The girls quickly became good buddies, eating their meals side by side and sleeping side by side, often in the same position, as seen below. We were convinced they planned these moments just to mess with our heads -- and it worked.

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Winnie was a special girl. There are so many things we loved about her, but here are a few favorite memories ...
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  • Winnie loved to cuddle. All she wanted was to be near us. I would hold her head in my hands and rub on her face, which she loved! When my husband would pick her up -- all 55 pounds of her -- and flip her over onto her back, she would go limp, just like a baby. When she was small, we'd sit on the floor and she'd crawl into our laps; when she was full grown and we'd sit on the floor, she would lay with her paws and her head on our legs. She always wanted to be touching.
  • She was very vocal. That dog could talk. She loved the sound of her own voice, and so did we. Once we got her started, we could keep up a "conversation" for minutes on end. Her vocal range was quite impressive.
  • She made us laugh a lot. At feeding time, she would do this funny thing where she'd run up to us as we were holding her food bowl, spin around twice at our feet and then run back into the mudroom where she was fed. She'd repeat this routine over and over, the same way each time. It was hilarious.
  • Winnie loved to play with this little blue ball, the super-bouncy kind. She'd play with it all by herself and chase it around the room. We'd place it under her dog bed and she would pounce on it, just like a fox going after its prey. It was very funny.
  • Every evening when Winnie heard us arrive home, she would howl in excitement, knowing that dinner was just a minute away. She would get Phoebe started and the two of them would carry on so loudly, you could hear them down the street.
  • Winnie loved to ride in the car with her head out the window. She was always up for an adventure, especially a trip to the park or to grandma's house.

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It was truly a blessing to have had Winnie in our lives for ten wonderful years. She is gone, but she will never be forgotten.

16 comments:

  1. new to your blog today and read your beautiful account of your dog. Its such a wonderful thing to rescue such a valuable life.

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  2. It is a great testament to the loving nature of dogs, that we take them into our lives and homes and love them so much that they become one of us - all the time knowing how short their lives are compared to ours......knowing that one day we will have to say good bye to them first. I enjoyed reading your post so much, even though it brought tears to my eyes. I also have a loving, loyal lab who has just turned 11 and is starting to slow down and have some health problems. I look at him, and can't imagine this home without him in it. I'm sad for you, but I'm glad you are focusing on the wonderful times with Winnie.....

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  3. What a beautiful and sweet-looking pup! You were all lucky to have found each other. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  4. I can't bring myself to read it but just wanted to say I'm sorry. I know she was a member of your family and it's a terribly difficult loss. My condolences. :(

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  5. This is so sweet and the photos of her are beautiful. What a wonderful tribute!
    Karen

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  6. I know you are celebrating her life and what a beautiful life it has been. I cried and cried reading your story and that of Winnie. It hits me in such a special place, because my Shushu (Sparky) is going to be 12. He has arthritis and a heart condition. I can't even imagine life without him... Winnie is beautiful, like a little canine angel from heaven. She is also so very blessed to have found a loving family like you. I am sorry for your loss.

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  7. What a beautiful, sweet girl! I hope it was cathartic to write this beautiful tribute to her. Your post made me sad. It is so difficult to part with a pet.

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  8. Thank you, every one of you, for your kind comments. They are deeply appreciated. It's good to know there are people who understand how difficult the loss of a pet really is.
    Claudia

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  9. God bless sweet Winnie. Thank you for sharing your memories of your precious girl with us. Julie

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  10. What a beautiful tribute to your special little girl! Thank you for sharing such wonderful and personal memories of her! I know you gave her a beautiful life. what a loving gift you gave to each other!

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  11. Sorry to hear about your Winnie. She was beautiful. I know some day you will meet again.

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  12. Though i feel sorry for you, what a nice tribute you wrote. Makes me feel good Winnie was loved . She is your guardian angel now! :)

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  13. Oh, what a very sweet story... It's been almost five years since our Westie died and you know, we still talk about her every day! We always said she was our "second daughter"...yes, indeed, she lives on! She actually DID have Addison's disease, but it was totally under control for the her last five years.
    No, we don't have another one and probably won't ever. One was perfect and we can never replicate that.
    Anyway, this was a very touching story for all of us dog people...

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  14. I'm so sorry to read this Claudia. Winnie sounded like such a lovely member of your family and I can imagine how she must be missed by you xx

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  15. I loved your story of wonnie. Such a sweet girl

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  16. I was just strolling through and enjoying your wonderful blog for the first time and happened upon this sweet yet sad post about your beloved Winnie...I'm so sorry for your loss, and know that she's with you every single day in spirit and heart.
    Just recently, our little Ginger (a Doxie) was diagnosed with Cushings and we're just now in the process of playing with the meds...it is tricky, but so far so good. She's 15 and even though that's a fantastic age to live to for a fur-baby,it's still not long enough.
    Nice that you have Henry now though....he's a sweetie!
    xo J~

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